Editors' Picks

Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid's Luang Prabang Fusion Salad

June  4, 2014

Every week -- often with your help -- Food52's Executive Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: A salad that breaks every rule, and won't leave you looking for your next course.

Lunch was half a pizza, maybe, or the heat of the day is still hanging on your skin. A big salad dinner sounds like the answer.

But even the big salads that purport to be meals leave us rummaging for second dinner a few hours later (unless we eat a lot of cheese on the side).

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Not this one, from Hot Sour Salty Sweet by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. It doesn't give us a chance to be hungry or dissatisfied -- but it does break every salad rule we know.

We think we're supposed to baby our lettuce, keep it cool, dress it sparingly.

But here you're dousing it in two dressings -- the first, fresh and punchy with lime and fish sauce; the second made largely of hot cooked pork and water, sparked with vinegar and thickened with cooked egg yolks.

Together they'll soak and soften the lettuce, plus heaps of cilantro and parsley and bashed scallions, and make a soggy puddle in the bottom of the bowl -- this is not a mistake. You'll want to drink it.


It comes together with the speed of any other salad or stir-fry (which, until now, you'd rarely lump together). You've done this all before -- just not all at once.

First, hard cook some eggs -- the yolks will be mashed up and stirred into the hot dressing, the whites there for more protein, and satiety.


Whisk together ginger, lime juice, fish sauce, garlic, and chiles -- this is dressing #1.

Then gather your mise en place by the stove -- dressing #2 happens quickly.

Almost burn some garlic, then brown some ground pork in it. Then pour in sugar, salt, and hot water and scrape up the dregs.


Finally, stir in vinegar and those mashed egg yolks.


And pour it all over your lettuce, herbs, and scallions. Don't forget that other dressing.


Scatter on those egg whites and some chopped peanuts. Eat it all -- hot, sour, salty, sweet. Bright, meaty, herbal, cleansing, nourishing, enough.

Serve it with rice at the very most.

Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid's Luang Prabang Fusion Salad

Adapted slightly from Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia (Artisan, 2000)

Serves 6 to 8 

For the salad:

3 to 4 large or extra-large eggs, preferably free-range
2 medium heads leaf or Bibb lettuce, washed and dried
4 scallions, trimmed, smashed flat with the side of a cleaver, cut lengthwise in half or into quarters, and then cut crosswise into 2-inch lengths
1 cup cilantro sprigs
1 cup loosely packed, coarsely chopped or torn Chinese celery leaves, or substitute flat-leaf parsley sprigs

For the lime juice dressing:

1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 bird or serrano chiles (optional)
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

For the cooked dressing:

2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil or minced pork fat
8 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound ground pork
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup rice or cider vinegar
2 to 3 tablespoons dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]. Thanks to Nicholas Day for this one!

Photo of Jeffrey and Naomi by Dominic and Tashi Alford-Duguid; all other photos by James Ransom

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Sara
  • parrish
  • Aparna Surte
    Aparna Surte
  • cookinalong
  • ahelfeld
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Sara April 12, 2015
Any way to substitute the pork for something vegetarian
parrish January 19, 2015
This is the most bizarre salad I've ever made! …and one of the most delicious,too. And, yes, I slurped the extra juices at the bottom of the bowl, too! Can't wait to make it again...
Aparna S. June 23, 2014
I made this using napa cabbage instead of the lettuce and minced chicken. Added red chili powder to the chicken dressing and served it to family and friends. It was delicious and they loved it! Definitely going to make this again.
cookinalong June 9, 2014
The lime juice dressing is wonderful! Vibrant flavors, nicely balanced. But adding 3/4 c. of water just dilutes it too much. If I make this again, I'd cut the water in half, at least. It really cancelled out the dressing and made this a bit bland.
ahelfeld June 8, 2014
It was delicious. I have leftover dressing and am excited for tomorrow's lunch!
Kack June 8, 2014
A great meal! Tons of flavor. Next time I'll use rice and add a third head of lettuce. I only used 1/2 the dressing and it was plenty. For a one-dish meal, it only served 3 people. Although it was a bit strange having a soup and salad in one, we liked it!
Horto June 7, 2014
I don't get how you all can use the peoples recipes.
Those two have traveled the world to become what they are

do they know you post this?
Debbie June 5, 2014
I don't know how people can say this is a keeper if they've never tried it. But anyways- no one like this one :/ I was so excited to try it but it was just overwhelming. I don't know how else to explain it. Just too much.
Debbie June 5, 2014
We made this for lunch at work today. The flavors are great, and the peanuts add texture, but it seems like too much liquid. Without the peanuts, I would not have liked the texture. Also, after pouring the pork and dressing over the lettuce, ours did not look like the above picture!
LauriL June 4, 2014
Oh boy!!!!
sheri June 4, 2014
Definitely need to try and is a keeper.
Yessica June 4, 2014
this sounds incredibly yummy and satisfying. I must try this on the weekend. often after eating salad I too feel like I need to eat something else. The amount of protein in here gives me confidence.
dryden June 4, 2014
I often substitute mushrooms for meat in a recipe. That might work here. If I try it I will report back It does look good.
Euro K. June 4, 2014
Hi all. This has me salivating. Unfortunately I am allergic to eggs. Do you think avocado might work instead of egg yolks? The white I can just leave out. If anyone has an idea, PLEASE send it my way! Thanks.
Kristen M. June 4, 2014
The dressing will work without the yolks -- it will just be a little thinner and more tart, so you might want to start with a bit less vinegar. But avocado could also be good!
ckhonda June 4, 2014
i subsitute pork many times with ground turkey
Sana A. June 4, 2014
What can I substitute for pork?
dc June 4, 2014
Ground turkey, chicken or soy crumbles maybe...might have to add a tbsp. of some sort of oil depending on the fat content.
Nicholas D. June 4, 2014
Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Just make this salad immediately.
Kristen M. June 4, 2014
What Nicholas said.